The Frontal Cortex

The Wii and Obesity

Last week, I wrote about how the Nintendo Wii is the first emotional video game system, since it forces your body to become involved in playing the game. (Fans of Wiliam James and Antonio Damasio will know what I’m talking about: all of our feelings actually begin in the flesh.)

But now it turns out that all this Wii exercise has some negative consequences. Video game fanatics are really out of shape, and aren’t used to getting off the couch:

The new console has been wildly successful, selling out at stores and winning high marks from critics and game buffs. But as players spend more time with the Wii, some are noticing that hours waving the game’s controller around can add up to fairly intense exertion — resulting in aches and pains common in more familiar forms of exercise. They’re reporting aching backs, sore shoulders — even something some have dubbed “Wii elbow.”

“It’s harder than playing basketball,” says Kaitlin Franke, a 12-year-old from Louisville, Ky. She has been camped out in front of her family’s TV, fine-tuning her bowling motion and practicing boxing footwork in two of the Wii’s games. Almost immediately, she says, her right arm started to feel numb.

Her arm is numb? Is this poor kid having a stroke? And is the Wii the cure for childhood obesity? It’s about time Generation Z exercises something besides their thumbs.


  1. #1 coturnix
    November 27, 2006

    Good, good, good!

    What do you think about some other potential side-effects of Wii?

  2. #2 rehana
    November 28, 2006

    I understand why it might be a more emotional game system, but saying that other games can’t affect your emotions (which is what “first emotional game system” suggests to me) is silly.

  3. #3 Jonah
    November 28, 2006

    You’re right, although I do think the Wii is emotional in a very different way than other thumb-centric consoles.

  4. #4 APL
    February 25, 2007

    I agree with you about that these kids need to exercise something besides their thumbs. I find the whole thing about the Wii being a good source of exercise, kind of silly. I understand that we have this whole generation of gamers but how can this realy compare to real exercise or even just going outside and playing. While I myself find these games fun and amusing I do not see them as a good source of exercise. Whatever happened to the good ‘ol days of going and playing basketball, football, hockey or whatever your choice of game was in the street of your neighborhood. I see the wii as another excuse for our obese children to stay inside instead of going outside and playing. They are missing out on all the fun that my friends and I, as well as many others use to have. As far as being involved emotionally involved in the games as well I think that many of them really need to get a life and go experience something that is real and not hooked up to a TV.

  5. #5 llewelly
    February 26, 2007

    Her arm is numb? Is this poor kid having a stroke?

    Are you actually surprised that kids will play video games to the point of numbness?
    I grew up when the NES and SNES were popular. I didn’t know any owner of NES or SNES that didn’t play at least a few games to the point of numbness (of hands and fingers, usually). I would not expect the fact that many Wii games require the user to stand up, and move their feet and arms to change this.

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